Minnesota Consumers Contact BBB With Questions About HomeServe Mailing

Minnesota consumers have been contacting the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) regarding a mailing they’ve received from HomeServe USA. The mailings inform recipients that they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their exterior water lines, leaving them liable for repairs which could potentially cost thousands of dollars. It then provides an 800 number and a deadline to enroll in their Water Service Line Coverage. Some consumers have stated the mailings appear to be from a government or county agency. The BBB is advising consumers to review these notices carefully, particularly the portion that says HomeServe is an independent company separate from your local utility or community.

The BBB also notes that while the company is correct when they say homeowners are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their water lines ” from the street to their meters” the warranty coverage they offer is optional, not mandatory.

Similar to any warranty, service plan, or insurance policy it is up to the consumer to determine its value and whether or not it’s worth purchasing, said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB. “They should also be clear about what is covered under the policy offered, as well as what is not covered.”

The BBB says that while some homeowners may not be covered for the line repairs offered by Home Service USA, anyone who is uncertain should call his or her water department to avoid paying for duplicate coverage. You should also review your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if coverage is already provided, as well as contact your insurance company to ask how this coverage would work in conjunction with your current policy.

HomeServe USA is headquartered in Miami, Florida. The company also claims a P.O. Box in St. Paul. Their Business Review with the Better Business Bureau of South East Florida gives them an A rating, but notes that they have previously entered into consent agreements with the states of Kentucky and Ohio for mailing solicitations that “generated confusion” and were found to be “unfair and deceptive” in their appearance. Home Service USA is not currently Accredited with the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota.

The BBB recommends the following tips to consumers who receive a call or letter from Home Service USA or similar companies:

  • Read the service contract very carefully and make sure you have a clear understanding of it, especially each of the exclusions, before agreeing to buy coverage. Do not purchase any coverage over the phone without seeing a contract with all details that were discussed verbally set down in writing.
  • Make sure you’re familiar with the company’s cancellation policy in case you change your mind after signing up.
  • Check the company’s BBB Reliability Report at www.bbb.org to see if there are any unanswered, unresolved or unusual pattern of complaints that other consumers have noticed.

13 Responses

  1. Ted

    Residents also need to be concerned about the financial viability of the company involved and the integrity of its owners. After all, residents would be advancing funds to this company without any assurances that the company will be in existence at the time they file a claim. Bear in mind too, that the company needs to collect an amount that is equal to all claims plus an additional amount to cover administrative expenses and profit. I for one, would not purchase such a policy as one would probably never have a need to file a claim, and then how difficult will it be to collect if one does file a claim? How many people do you know in your lifetime that have had such a water problem? Sounds like a win, win for the company which can run up administrative expenses to absorb the payments and then go out of business. How long have they been in business and what is their track record? Who are their references? I would have more faith in my local plumber. Support your local plumber. He has been there in the past and most likely will be there in the future, for you. I have no connection with any plumbers. I speak from 30 years experience in industrial credit and as a former Controller. Be wise, and pay as you go; not in advance for something that may never happen.

  2. Ted

    I looked up HomeServe USA on the Secretary of State for Minnesota website and see two organizations with HomeServe USA in their name, but none stated only as HomeServe USA. The ones listed with HomeServe USA in their name, only have their name reserved. I would want to know their legal entity name, what type of organization (corporation, individual or assumed name, partnership or what) date of organization, and Minnesota Organization Entity ID number. Then look them up on the State website.

  3. Ted

    If I was going to extend credit to this organization by making advance premium payments I would want to know something about their financial strength, how long they have been in business, credit references, etc. When the bank gives you a loan, they ask for the same information. Ask them for their most recent financial statements; balance sheet and income statement, unless they have been doing business in your area for many years and have an established reputation. Why shouldn’t you know as much about who is receiving your advance payments as any bank knows about you?

  4. Good points, everyone! These are all things to consider – for sure.

    Ted, I also looked up the company online at the Secretary of State’s site and believe both of the companies registered are the same entity (just different branches). In the BBB system, the Better Business Bureau of SE Florida has the report on this company, as HomeServe is headquartered in their service area. You can access their report at http://www.bbb.org.

    Thank you for commenting!

  5. Mavis Goebel

    I have received two solicitation letters from HOMESERVE; St. Paul MN.

    My concern is the lack of information, and the “In Your Face” fill in your payment info on the second page.

    On the back of the second page….Questions and Answers….look at general exclusions: There are a lot of particulars that if one did not have their reading glasses on, would not know they would not be covered because the print is very tiny.

    This company needs to be run out of town.

  6. Mary

    Why would anyone pay for this service.The broken or leaking exterior water service line from the property boundary or well casing to your home’s foundation wall.That’s not much coverage.I prefer my local plumber that would fix it that day.Or I could fix it myself.You need to get out of state and town.Such a ripoff.

  7. Addie Moe

    This mailer does have a look and feel like it’s coming from the State of MN. The logo on the letter at first glance is similar to what you might see on your State of MN tax forms. Glad I googled this outfit.

    I’d never send a credit card number to a company like this – Glad you had this info posted out here.

  8. Kathy

    So far, I was referred from Homeserve to Experian Credit Reporting. They would only let me talk to a supervisor and stated “there’s no one else to talk to” and hung up on me. Apparently, Homeserve, got my address and credit information from Experian Credit Reporting. Experian Credit Reporting claims I have to be a member of there’s before they can refer me (for marketing) to Homeserve. However, all they wanted was my Social Security Number and told me they would not be able to search for me by name and birthdate. However, when I pushed them they did say they could search by name and Don. I did not show up as having an account with Experian Credit Reporting. This is a different company than Experian Credit Bureau one of the three credit reporting companies. I spoke with Ashley, badge #25676 at Experian Credit Reporting…try calling her, you’ll love her!!!

    1. Hello, Kathy,

      I’m sorry, this blog has not been maintained recently but I’m pleased that you were taking the time to research this offer closely. We always recommend that, of course. This kind of thing, a company selling/offering customer information to a partner does happen, but it should be stated clearly in their online privacy policy. I’m hoping this matter is behind you now, but let me know if that’s not the case. Thank you!

      Dan
      BBB
      651-695-2463

  9. Steve

    When I received this solicitation letter, I immediately planed to report it to Attorney General Office for possible scam. Then I decided to check them out on Google and found this thread. I totally agree with all of you. It seems to be a ‘legalized’ scam to me.

  10. Thank you for the comments, everyone. Since this article was originally posted, HomeServe has been working with BBBs to address outstanding issues. They are now a BBB Accredited Business in Connecticut.

    http://www.bbb.org/connecticut/business-reviews/water-and-sewer-line-protection/homeserve-usa-corp-in-norwalk-ct-87067998

    In their mailings, the company is correct in their assertion that the sewage line from people’s homes to the street generally isn’t covered under homeowner’s insurance. Anyone with concerns about mailings, solicitations or offers they receive (from this company or any other) may forward them for review to BBB at 220 S. River Ridge Circle, Burnsville, MN 55337, in care of our Advertising Review Department. Thank you.

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